Uganda reimposes lockdown to push back rising COVID-19 cases
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday reimposed a strict lockdown that included closing schools and suspending travel between districts to help push back an increase in COVID-19 cases in the East African country.
The new measures, which will take effect from Monday morning, include the closure of all educational institutions, certain travel bans, the closure of open weekly markets and the suspension of religious services.
Most of the new restrictions, Museveni said, would be in effect for 42 days. An assessment of their impact will then help the government decide whether to relax or extend them, he added.
Uganda put in place one of Africa’s toughest lockdowns at the start of the pandemic over a year ago, but it has been gradually lifted as cases slowed down.
Last month, however, infections began to rise and new cases, especially among young people, have risen, fueling fears the country could sink into an uncontrollable second wave.
Museveni said in a televised address on Sunday night that a second wave seizing the country was “diffuse and sustained”.
The government, he said, feared that the increase in the number of cases “would deplete available bed space and oxygen supplies in hospitals unless we take urgent public health measures.”
“In this wave, the intensity of critically ill COVID-19 patients and deaths is higher than what we experienced during the first wave of the pandemic,” he said.
COVID-19 infections in Uganda are on average daily at their peak, with 825 new infections reported each day, according to a Reuters analysis. [https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/countries-and-territories/uganda/]
From January to April, the positivity rate in the samples tested was mostly below 3%, but the rate started to rise sharply last month, reaching 18% on June 2, according to data from the Department of Health.
The East African country has so far reported nearly 53,000 positive cases and 383 deaths.
The new restrictions potentially threaten to halt an already fragile economic recovery after the blow inflicted by last year’s lockdown.
The restrictions contributed to an economic contraction of 1.1% in 2020, but the finance ministry predicted ahead of Sunday’s new measures that growth would climb between 4% and 5% in the fiscal year starting in July.
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